Haymarket Square, Crane's Alley, and Zepf's Hall


On May 4, 1886, about 2,500 people gathered in Haymarket Square near Randolph and Desplaines to hear labor and community leaders such as August Spies, Albert Parsons, and Samuel Fielden discuss the violent clash betweeen striking workers and the police the day before at the McCormick Reaper Plant, the movement for the eight hour day, and general tensions between labor and capital across the nation (see accompanying photo of the Square in 1911 -- Chicago History Museum, DN-0057584). At about 10:30, with the crowd reduced to approximately two hundred, a bomb exploded at the same time that 176 armed police officers moved in to disperse the gathering. In the hue and cry for "law and order" eight men -- the "Haymarket Eight" -- were brought to trial and convicted for the bombing. One of the eight, Louis Lingg, was found dead in his cell on November 10, 1887. The next day, four others were hanged. In June 1893, Governor Peter Altgeld pardoned the three surviving men convicted in what Altgeld described as a profoundly unfair trial.

The speakers during the May 4 gathering spoke from the back of a wagon that was parked on the spot where sculptor Mary Brogger's "Haymarket Memorial" (2004 -- see attached photo) now stands. According to historian William J. Adelman, the bomb was most likely thrown from the vestibule of a building on the Northeast corner of Randolph and Desplaines. Just to the north was Zepf's Hall (now 630 West Lake Street), then home to the Lumbershovers' Union that had asked Albert Spies to speak to its members near the McCormic Plant on May 3. When the bomb exploded, Albert and Lucy Parsons were in the tavern on the first floor of Zepf's Hall with their children and their friend Lizzie Holmes.

The bomb landed on the west side of Desplaines, opposite Crane's Alley which was on the east side of Desplaines between Randolph and Lake. One police officer died immediately.

Labor Trail

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer